, Volume 195, Issue 3, pp 345–355 | Cite as

The CRF1 receptor antagonist antalarmin attenuates yohimbine-induced increases in operant alcohol self-administration and reinstatement of alcohol seeking in rats

  • Peter W. Marinelli
  • Douglas Funk
  • Walter Juzytsch
  • Stephen Harding
  • Kenner C. Rice
  • Yavin Shaham
  • A. D. Lê
Original Investigation


Rationale and objectives

Yohimbine is an alpha-2 adrenoreceptor antagonist that provokes stress- and anxiety-like responses in both humans and laboratory animals. In rats, yohimbine increases operant alcohol self-administration and reinstates alcohol seeking. In this study, we assess whether these effects of yohimbine are attenuated by systemic injections of the corticotrotropin-releasing factor 1 (CRF1) receptor antagonist antalarmin.

Materials and methods

In Exp. 1, we trained rats to lever press for alcohol solutions (12% w/v, 1 h/day) over several weeks; during training, the response requirement was increased from a fixed-ratio-1 (FR-1) to a fixed-ratio-3 (FR-3) reinforcement schedule. We then tested the effect of antalarmin (10 or 20 mg/kg) on yohimbine (1.25 mg/kg)-induced increases in operant alcohol self-administration (FR-3 reinforcement schedule). Subsequently, we assessed the effect of antalarmin on yohimbine-induced increases in plasma corticosterone levels in the previously self-administering rats. In Exp. 2, we trained the rats to self-administer alcohol as in Exp. 1, and after extinction of the alcohol-reinforced lever responding over 13 days, we tested antalarmin’s effect on yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking.


Yohimbine increased operant alcohol self-administration and reinstated alcohol seeking after extinction. These effects of yohimbine were attenuated by antalarmin. Antalarmin injections in the absence of yohimbine had no effect on either operant alcohol self-administration or extinction responding. Antalarmin had no effect on yohimbine-induced corticosterone release in alcohol-experienced rats.


These results suggest that extrahypothalamic CRF1 receptors are involved in the effect of yohimbine on operant alcohol self-administration and on relapse to alcohol seeking and support the notion that CRF1 receptor antagonists should be considered in alcohol addiction treatment.


Alcohol self-administration Alpha-2 adrenoceptors Corticosterone CRF CRF1 receptor Relapse Reinstatement Stress Noradrenaline 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter W. Marinelli
    • 1
    • 5
  • Douglas Funk
    • 1
  • Walter Juzytsch
    • 1
  • Stephen Harding
    • 1
  • Kenner C. Rice
    • 2
  • Yavin Shaham
    • 2
  • A. D. Lê
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Alcohol LaboratoryCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug AbuseIntramural Research ProgramBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of NeurosciencesCAMHTorontoCanada

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